Blood and Bogies

I’ve been back living at Ur for a week now with four days on site, during which I’ve renewed my mutually-abusive relationship with unbaked cuneiform tablets. I’ve re-nested in my tin box, hung my flags, flushed a lot of water down the dusty toilet and hidden all my food supplies where they can be out of harm’s way in the short term. I augmented my UK stores with a litre of Stoli and eight Kinder Eggs at Istanbul airport.


The timeless beauty of Nasiriyah power station in the light of a cold January morning

It’s bastard cold in Iraq at the moment and the only way I’ve found of sleeping in the insulation-free innards of my steel shipping container is by wearing most of my clothes and piling up heaps of thick, luridly patterned Iraqi blankets on top. I’m effectively pinned to the mattress by the weight of them and I’ve been having a lot of dreams about being caught in avalanches or drowning. I think I’m treading a fine line between developing hypothermia and being murdered by my own bedding. The state of my unconscious psyche has also been coloured by reading the Osprey book of the Iran-Iraq war before bed so that I’ve spent a couple of nights fighting off human wave attacks by massed Pasdaran infantry.

Our four days on site were interrupted by the traditional heavily armed trip to the clinic in Nasiriyah to check, for residency visa purposes, that we are all human people who bleed real human blood. The blood samples are taken in one room and then registered separately in another with the owner taking care of the sample in between so at least we all had something to keep our hands warm. We passed the waiting periods by playing Bogies – for those who are unfamiliar, this is a game played in public spaces, in which each player has to say the word ‘Bogies’ slightly louder than the previous player until someone chickens out. We were surprisingly uninhibited at the hospital.


M wonders how he can possibly beat the last Bogie without being shot in the back of the head by the cops


Nice doggy

On the way back from the blood-letting we stopped off at the Nasiriyah Museum of Civili Zation (sic). This was not my sort of museum really, as it was lacking in the most vital areas (gift shop, café) but did provide some interest by all the dates in the prehistory gallery being out by a factor of ten, someone having added an extra zero on the end of each, and by having a statue which looked exactly like the evil stone Zool dogs from Ghostbusters.

1 thought on “Blood and Bogies

  1. Jon Pattengill

    Wishing you good luck at Ur. Agatha Christie met her husband on a dig there. May the clay tablets speak sweetly to you of greener days, and may you find greener, happier days yourself. While pinned under all your heavy blankets at night, you can pretend you are an especially interesting clay tablet waiting for someone to dig you out. Carefully, of course.
    While at Ur, you may well see the MU. NA. DU. , the oft-used last line I told you about. The MU looks to us like an arrow, with a pointy head at one end and fletching on the other. The NA in the middle looks like a little diamond-shaped rock with a tail at the left and some hatching marks in it. and DU is an acute triangular dirt-hauling basket, with its pointy bottom to the right. “He it built,” a hell of a long time ago, and lots of it is still there. They don”t make them like that anymore.
    As for your bed-time reading, you would find something about historic railway stations a bit more settling. We all have the option of rubbing salt in our wounds, but it is better if we do not make use of it. I broke myself of that habit some time ago, and I recommend that route. It helped quite a lot.


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